In the early 1980s, a change in the law made it mandatory for all drivers to wear a seat belt when driving. The benefits of seat belts go without saying and it’s probably true that since their introduction, thousands of lives have been saved. However, seat belts can cause injuries in Road Traffic Accidents (RTAs). If you suffer a seat belt injury in an RTA caused by another driver’s negligence, you could claim compensation for your suffering. Our article on seatbelt injury claims will show you how to begin your claim and will look at some of the most common injuries caused by seatbelts.
We can help you to begin the seat belt claims process as we offer a no-obligation initial consultation. During your call, a specialist will discuss what happened and review your options with you. After they’ve provided free advice, they could connect you to one of our personal injury lawyers if your claim is suitable. Should they agree to represent you, they’ll do so on a No Win, No Fee basis. That means that you won’t have to pay any legal fees unless you are compensated.
Please read on to learn more about seat belt injury claims or give us a call on 0800 652 1345 if you’d like to discuss your options right away.
Seat belt laws in the UK
Before moving on to look at the types of injuries seat belts can cause, we’re going to review the current laws on seat belt use in the UK.
They state that:
- All drivers must wear a seat belt when driving.
- Passengers in the front or back of a car must wear a seatbelt.
- Children over 135 centimetres tall or over 12 years old must wear a seat belt.
- Younger or smaller children must be secured in a suitable car seat that has been fitted correctly.
There are very few cases where seat belts don’t need to be worn. One example is if you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a seatbelt. If this is the case, you must obtain a ‘Certificate of Exemption from Compulsory Seat Belt Wearing’ and keep it in your vehicle.
If you are caught without a seatbelt on, you could be fined £100 on the spot or a maximum of £500 by a court.
Think!, the government organisation that manages safety campaigns, says that:
- You are twice as likely to die in a car crash if you’re not wearing a seatbelt.
- Drivers and passengers aged between 17-34 have the highest accident rate and the lowest seatbelt-wearing rates.
- Many people don’t wear seat belts on short or familiar journeys.
Can I claim compensation for a seat belt injury?
All drivers have a legal duty of care to try and keep others as safe as possible by driving cautiously and in accordance with the Highway Code. This duty of care (established by the Road Traffic Act 1988) means that a seat belt injury claim might be possible if:
- Another driver was negligent; and
- An accident happened as a result of that accident; and
- You sustained a seat belt injury during the accident.
Proving negligence isn’t always easy and we believe you have a better chance of doing so if you have specialist legal representation. If your claim is taken on by one of our solicitors, they’ll present as strong a case as possible and attempt to secure the maximum amount of compensation possible for your suffering.
Common injuries from seat belts
As mentioned earlier, seatbelts save lives in car crashes. However, while doing so, they can lead to injuries which you could be compensated for if the accident was not your fault. Some of the most common injuries seen in seat belt claims include:
- Rib fractures (which can lead to lung injuries).
- Bruising to the chest.
- Neck injuries.
- Spinal injuries.
- Cuts and lacerations.
- Head injuries.
While some seat belt injuries will heal within a matter of weeks, others may last much longer and surgery may be required to try and improve your symptoms.
If you’ve suffered any of these injuries in a car crash, it’s likely that they’d have been much worse had you not been wearing a seat belt. Even so, if you’ve suffered any form of seatbelt injury following a no-fault car accident, you might wish to seek compensation for your suffering.
Law changes regarding whiplash claims
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries caused by seat belts. It occurs when the head is whipped forward and then backwards during a collision because your body is restrained by your seatbelt.
In 2021, the government introduced changes to whiplash claims to try and reduce their impact on the cost of motor insurance. As a consequence, low-value claims of below £5,000 can be managed by the claimant directly through a government portal.
The amount of compensation you might be entitled to is based on several factors such as multiple injuries, recovery times and the impact your injuries have on your ability to work. As such, as it can be difficult to put a value on your injuries, we would suggest that you speak to our team about any potential claim for whiplash. If your claim is believed to be valued below £5,000 we’ll refer you to the claims portal. If not, one of our personal injury solicitors may be able to help with your claim.
Negligence leading to seatbelt injury claims
So, as we’ve discussed already, you could be entitled to claim for a seatbelt injury provided your accident was caused by another driver’s negligence. In this section of our guide, we’ve listed some examples of driver negligence that could lead to seatbelt injury claims. They include:
- Dangerous driving. This can include accidents caused by speeding or road rage. It could also include collisions caused by drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Careless driving. Here, you could claim for seatbelt injuries caused by drivers who were using their phone or satnav while driving. You could also claim for accidents caused by drivers crashing into the back of your car because they failed to see that you’d stopped at a junction.
- Road defects. It’s possible to sustain whiplash and other seat belt-related injuries in collisions caused by potholes or road damage. In some cases, you may be able to sue the council if it can be shown that they’ve failed to inspect or maintain the road properly.
This is just a sample of the different types of negligence that could allow you to claim compensation for seatbelt injuries. If you’ve been involved in a different type of accident, please call our team to discuss your chances of being compensated.
How much compensation for a seat belt injury claim?
When you claim compensation for a seat belt injury, you’ll usually look at the suffering caused by your injuries (general damages) and any financial impact they’ve caused (special damages).
No two seat belt injury claims are the same but in principle, compensation could cover:
- The physical pain caused by your injuries and any treatment.
- Depression, anxiety, stress and any other psychiatric damage caused by the accident.
- The detrimental effect your injuries have on your hobbies and other usual activities.
- Medical costs including treatment at a private hospital.
- Care costs if you needed somebody else to help you while you were injured.
- Travel expenses.
- Loss of income and also future loss of earnings.
- The cost of replacing personal items damaged in the accident.
- Home or vehicle adaptations to improve your quality of life if you’ve been left permanently disabled.
If you’d like one of our solicitors to see what compensation for a seatbelt injury you could be entitled to claim, please get in touch today.
Is a medical assessment required?
During a seat belt injury claim, you will need to prove the extent of your injuries. As such, claimants must have an independent medical assessment. This isn’t something to be concerned about and your solicitor will usually be able to book a local appointment.
A medical expert will assess your seatbelt injuries during the appointment and talk with you about how you’ve suffered. After they have completed their examination, they’ll produce a report for all parties involved in the claim that will explain your prognosis.
Providing proof for a seatbelt injury claim
In most cases, a seat belt injury claim will be made against the other driver’s insurance policy. It is highly likely that their insurer will deny all liability for the accident and your injuries at the earliest possible opportunity. As a result, you’ll need to supply proof to show what happened and how you’ve suffered. For these reasons, if you’re injured in an RTA, you should:
- Swap details with the other driver. You should get their name, contact details and information about their insurance policy. You should also write down their vehicle’s make, model, colour and registration number.
- Take photographs. If you can do so safely, take as many photographs of the accident scene as possible. Ideally, do this before any vehicles are moved.
- Speak to witnesses. If anybody else stopped at the scene of your accident, ask them for their contact details. If necessary, your solicitor might ask them for a statement about what they saw.
- Secure dashcam footage. You should download any footage of the accident from your own dashcam or ask other drivers to forward any footage they’ve captured.
- Seek medical attention. You should always visit a hospital, GP surgery or minor injuries unit to have any seat belt injuries assessed and treated properly. If you go on to make a claim, your solicitor can request for any x-rays and medical notes to be sent to them.
If you’d like us to review any proof you’ve collected already or need advice on how to secure proof, please call our team today.
Seat belt injury claim time limits
In the UK, there is a 3-year time limit for car accident claims. In most cases, this will begin on the date you were injured. One exception to this rule is if your child is injured by their seat belt. Here, the limitation period does not come into effect until their 18th birthday and you can claim on their behalf at any point before that date if you’re approved as their litigation friend.
Although 3 years probably seems like a good amount of time, we would suggest that you don’t leave it too long before claiming. By starting early, your solicitor will have plenty of time to gather proof and medical reports to support your seat belt injury claim. Also, they may be able to secure interim payments to help with lost earnings or medical expenses because of your injuries.
No Win, No Fee claims
We understand that the thought of paying legal fees and then losing your claim is enough to stop you from taking action. For that reason, our solicitors provide a No Win, No Fee service for any seat belt injury claim they take on.
If your claim proceeds, you:
- Won’t need to pay your solicitor upfront.
- Won’t pay any legal fees if the claim fails.
- Will pay a success fee to cover your solicitor’s work if compensation is paid out.
The success fee is a percentage of any compensation you receive. Legally it’s limited to 25% of your settlement amount. The percentage you’ll pay will be listed in your Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) that you’ll be asked to sign before your claim begins.
To check whether one of our No Win, No Fee solicitors could help you to make a seatbelt injury claim, please get in touch today.
Start a seatbelt injury claim today
We hope that you’ve found this guide useful. If you have decided to take action, call our team on 0800 652 1345 to begin the seat belt injury claims process. There’s no obligation to proceed with a claim but during your call, your claim will be reviewed and you’ll receive free legal advice about your options.
Remember, if one of our solicitors agrees to help, they’ll represent you on a No Win, No Fee basis. Knowing that should make the claims process a lot less stressful.
For more information on seat belt injury claims, please call our team or connect with a specialist via our live chat service.